About those messages from the school bus people
It happens every year.
Kids get home late on the first day of school. Parents panic. They call the Hillsborough County School District. They can't get anyone on the phone. They complain to their school board members. The school board members berate the transportation managers. Everyone promises to do better. And then the following year, it happens again.
What's the solution?
District officials are trying to pre-empt those calls this year with a series of robo-calls and texts to parents, warning them that bus riders might arrive late on Thursday and one or two days after that.
As much as two and a half hours.
They hope it won't be that bad.
But here's the reality according to Grayson Kamm, the new communications chief:
Children and their teachers have to learn the correct routines for lining up at the correct bus and making sure everyone is accounted for. That takes time. It takes even more time at the district's four magnet ramps, where local buses have to wait until all of the magnet school buses have arrived.
There is a number parents can call if they get worried: 813-982-5500.
But the lines could very well be jammed. Last year, Kamm estimates there were 7,500 calls to the office on the first day. "Even with volunteers, we can't handle that many," he said.
The hope is that by establishing realistic expectations, the district can cut down on the volume of calls and everyone can get used to their new normal. The district is even texting a link to a video that explains why the buses might be late.
Members of the communications staff say they will be in contact with transportation officials throughout the day and will send out follow-up texts as needed.